Travelling With a Chronic Illness


On our recent web show, Plug in with the Unchargeables, we discussed travelling with a chronic illness. We shared many tips and tricks to make travel easier. Here is a summary of some of the things we discussed on our show.


Weeks before you leave:

Develop packing lists for every type of outdoor activity. I keep separate lists for camping, taking the kids to the park or a weekend away… I keep these in a binder that I have set up just for travel and other excursions. It also holds my itinerary, maps, and expense records. In the binder, add a list of people to notify that you are travelling, such as the newspaper, mail carrier or pet sitter. Make a list of things you need to do before you go- lock windows and doors, turn heat down, etc… Take a copy of your medications and other medical information as well.

If necessary, call the places you intend to travel to and arrange for any adaptations or services you will need, such as airport wheelchair assistance, or someone to carry in your bags. When you are making hotel reservations, be sure to mention if you need a first floor room or handicap bathroom. You may also want to look up the hospitals in the area you will be traveling to; I once needed to find a hospital when we went to a NASCAR race because I ended up having a kidney stone!

If you use medical marijuana, be sure you know the laws in the area you will be travelling through and to. Remember that you cannot take marijuana or medibles into the airports, and cannot transport it in your luggage.

When travelling to a country where you do not know the language, be sure to take a list of important words such as: Please, thank you, where is the bathroom, I need help, where is the hospital, doctor, I am sick, bathroom, and pain.




Pack what you can ahead of time. I keep my “shave kit” stocked with a quart size Ziploc, my travel shampoo and other items so they are ready for TSA air travel requirements. Pack your medications in a gallon size Ziploc so they are easy to get to, keep them in their original containers, and make sure you have extra medications. I keep a copy of my list of medications in it, including their prescribing doctor, and what each is for.  This will help at security checkpoints as well. Medical alert bracelets are handy, some bracelets now have a website address that medical personnel can go to and find all of your medical information.


If you are staying with friends or family, take advantage of their laundry facilities. Most campgrounds and some hotels also have these available. This way you can plan to wash a few items and pack lighter.

Do not forget a container of change for tolls, vending machines or laundry facilities.

Keep a carry-on bag (or car bag) with the binder, tissues, extra meds, sunglasses, healthy snacks and a water bottle. I also use this bag to hold my purse when I fly, since it fits under the seat in front of me. You may also want to take a pillow to support you in a car or on an airplane.



While you travel:

Consider registering for TSA pre-check, you will have less fuss in the TSA bag check area, and get through much quicker. Also, notify flight service that you do have a disability; this will help you with the boarding process.

Don’t forget to pace yourself, alternate activities such as walking with activities that are more restful. Make sure you give yourself time to recharge between activities. Ensure that you are moving your legs around every two hours or so will prevent blood clots in your legs. Drink plenty of water.

Make sure you have some time to relax when you return home so you are not overextended by needing to go immediately into your normal daily activities.  has many more tips to help you, and you can watch our show below. Happy Travels!






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